Fiat lux

And please let there be refrigeration too. This morning was the third time within a week that the power’s been cut off at home. Today it was from somewhere around 7 am until somewhere around 8:15.

There’s not a lot of resetting to be done. Only two items require attention, and it doesn’t really matter if they don’t get it. One is the telephone answering machine in case it’s of any great importance to know at what time a message is left. The telephone is an old-fashioned rotary phone, not a Touch Tone, underneath it all and has no extra features other than that it’s combined with an answering machine. After one too many hard knocks, the old device with mini-cassettes was replaced by an electronic machine, with a funny mechanical voice that’s much nicer than any recording that could be made. There are occasions when it is useful to know when a message was left, but there’s no urgency about resetting the time. If a battery is in the telephone, the time will be preserved. It does seem, though, that the power goes out quite frequently and for quite extended periods of time, so it never seems worth it to keep a battery in there. If a message is erased, the caller will try again.

The second item is the video cassette recorder for the television, but that’s not urgent, either. The only show ever set to be recorded is one telenovela. We can receive Univision without cable on channel 31. The current novela is Mujer de madera , which features two great male villains and one memorable female villain. The “good” people, as always, are rather boring. Because it’s a shame to miss any of the deeds of Melenas or El Perico, the recorder will be reset this evening. Since these soaps have a beginning and an end and go on for extended episodes with many, many characters if they’re popular, missing one or more shows never makes it tough to catch up with the story.

Luckily, this morning it was beginning to be what passed for light when the juice was cut. Thanks to San Antonio’s own 7- or 8-day Reed candles, stocked in quantity for the Hallowe’en, Thanksgiving, and Christmas season, there was plenty of light. The colored glass makes the pink, red, blue, and green candles less bright, so we always keep plenty of the clear, white ones around as well.

Food from the fridge was already cooking on the gas burners, so that the door didn’t need to be opened again while the power was out. This was a very good thing, because the refrigerator is almost 30 years old and no longer works at peak efficiency, to say the least.

The outage wasn’t worth calling in. It was obviously so widespread that speaking to a living being would have meant a hold of at least half an hour. Where traffic signals were out, the greatest of courtesy prevailed and vehicular traffic flowed better than it does when the lights are working. Pedestrians received some courtesy, too, for a change. This civilization on the road seems to bear out the theories expounded in an article in the December Wired magazine. It’s called “Roads Gone Wild” (Tom McNichol) but won’t be available on line until December 7. He profiles a Dutch traffic engineer who believes in removing signals and center-line markings and the like, claiming that, although it may appear that motorists will be slowed, such is not in fact the case, and that making drivers pay attention results in better vehicular flow and greater safety for all.

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